Sunday, November 14, 2010

Today -100: November 14, 1910: Of hot sweeties, accidental colonialism, and lynchings

Headline of the Day -100: “Sweet Potato Men Revolt.” That conjures up a rather odd but pleasing image. In fact, these revolting sweet potato men would be street vendors. Does New York still have sweet potato men? The 900 or so sweet potato men, who rent their push-cart-charcoal-stove contraptions for 30 to 50¢ a day, have been told this year that they will also have to buy their potatoes from the owners, at inflated prices. Thus the revolt against what they call the Hot-Sweetie Stove Trust.

A NYT editorial on the Philippines is a lovely example of the thesis, not entirely unknown down to the present day, of American Innocency. “We took the islands practically by accident, as the only feasible policy, the only rational alternative to leaving them to chaos and rapine in the feeble hands of Spain, or as the result of savage civil war among the natives. We took them with the intention and the promise that ‘when the Filipino people as a whole show themselves reasonably fit to conduct a popular self-government... and desire complete independence of the United States they shall be given it.’” (That quote is from Taft when he was governor of the Philippines).

Mexican President-for-Life Díaz responds publicly to a telegram sent privately by Taft about the burning at the stake of Mexican national Antonio Rodriguez in Texas. Evidently Taft promised to punish the guilty parties (although the federal government would have had no power to do any such thing in 1910). Meanwhile, a Mexican has shot the police chief of Anadarko, Oklahoma and the State Dept has written to the OK governor asking that he prevent the man being lynched (if he is captured).

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